NCT vs MOT – Are they the same?


Due to the resurgence of UK imports into the Irish car market in recent years, vehicle data expert Cartell.ie decided to drill down into the published statistics for the Irish NCT and UK equivalent MOT roadworthiness tests. To assess the Top 5 UK Imports into Ireland in 2018, based on their reliability and performance in their inaugural test, we hereby introduce our data-backed analysis of these five vehicles in a NCT vs MOT comparison to determine which test is stricter.

As it stands, UK imports represent roughly 24% of the entire Irish carpark, and the import drive shows no sign of slowing, with over 126,000 vehicles imported in 2018, which is an increase of nearly 6% compared to 2017. It will be an interesting comparison to see how each of the Top 5 UK Imports this year fared during their first NCT & MOT. How prevalent is the variance in pass standards?

Top 5

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf has consistently been a beloved car among the Irish car market in terms of reliability and practicality, and with more than 112,000 on our roads at present. With the release of the popular new Golf in 2013, we are going to round up the stats and review its performance in its first roadworthiness test in Ireland and the UK.NCT vs MOT

The 2013 Volkswagen Golf tops our list with a first-time pass rate of 85.9% based on 4,516 tests in 2017. But what did they fail their NCT on and what should you keep an eye on for the next one?

  • 4.8% of fails were on wheels & tyres, tread depth/tyre condition.
  • 3.6% of fails were on Lighting & Electric, misaligned headlamps and blown bulbs would make up most of these statistics.
  • 3.3% of fails were Vehicle & Safety Equipment – seatbelts not working, airbag light on the dash etc.

In contrast;
The pass rate for the equivalent UK Import in its first MOT was 84.2% based on 62,933 MOT Tests for a 2013 Volkswagen Golf.

The top three reasons for the 15.8% of vehicles that failed are;

  • 6.6% fail on Driver’s view of the road which involves Wipers, Windscreen washers and mirrors.
  • 5.5% fail on Tyres – Tread depth, tyre condition.
  • 3.5% fail on Lamps, Reflectors and Electrical Equipment

Ford Focus

NCT vs MOTNext on our list is the ever-popular Ford Focus, with over 126,000 currently on Irish roads, and 38,000 being imports.

The 2013 Focus scored an above average 84.7% pass rate in its first NCT which is based on 4,397 tests.

  • 5.3% of fails were on wheels & Tyres, tread depth/tyre condition.
  • 4.3% of fails were on Lighting & Electric, misaligned headlamps and blown bulbs would make up most of these statistics.
  • 3.2% of fails were Vehicle & Safety Equipment – seatbelts not working, airbag light on the dash etc.

The UK equivalent MOT for a 2013 Focus scored an impressive 87.3% first time pass rate based on 86,234 tests.

  • 5.0% failed on Lamps, Reflectors and Electrical Equipment.
  • 4.4% failed on Tyres
  • 1.9% failed on Brakes

BMW 5 Series

NCT vs MOTThe BMW 5 Series has been a consistent class leader in the Irish premium segment, boasting a luxurious interior, robust engine and a luxurious driving experience. With a sharp increase in the number of BMW imports this year, the 5 Series ranks a solid third place on our list in terms of reliability in its first roadworthiness test. With the overall NCT pass rate for a 2013 5 Series clearing 83.3% based on 2,039 tests.

8.1% failed on Tyres
3.7% failed on Lighting & Electric
3.5% failed on Vehicle & Safety Equipment.

In the UK, the 5 Series boasts an 85.5% pass rate based on 18,735 MOT tests. With the top failure rate unsurprisingly being down to unsafe tyres, topping out at 6.3%.

Volkswagen Passat

NCT vs MOTThird on our list, is the Volkswagen Passat. This motorway munching mid-range masterpiece has always been a household name in Ireland, with 80,000 on our roads at present and 31,000 representing imports, it almost lines up with the average first time pass rate for all 2013 vehicles, scoring an 81.2% first time pass rate based on 2,887 tests.
The bulk of 2013 Passats fail on the same handful on reasons.

  • 7.6% of fails were on wheels & tyres, tread depth/tyre condition – this is slightly above the average of 7% for all 2013 cars.
  • 5.4% of fails were on Lighting & Electric.
  • 3.9% of fails were Vehicle & Safety Equipment.

Likewise, the MOT equivalent for a 2013 Passat somewhat lined up with the pass rates for the NCT, coming in at a respectful 82.3% pass rate from 16,787 tests.

Nissan Qashqai

NCT vs MOTThe family-oriented Nissan Qashqai has played a stormer in the Crossover SUV segment for since its initial release just over 11 years ago, and with the upmarket facelift in 2013 it gained further momentum among Irish buyers – many of which have been opting to import one from the UK, with almost 3,000 imported in 2018 alone.

Based on 3,629 NCT Tests in 2017 for a 2013 Nissan Qashqai, we saw an overall pass rate of 78.8%, placing it firmly at fifth place in our rankings.

Lining up with the other contenders in our lists;
8.9% failed on the usual Lighting & Electrics
5.4% failed on Vehicle & Safety Equipment
3.3% failed on tyres

In the UK, the Qashqai had an impressive pass rate of 82.8%, with the largest offender being the driver’s view of the road which involves Wipers, Windscreen washers and mirrors, this accounts for 7% of all fails along with 6.5% being Lighting and Electrics, which almost mirrors the highest failure rate in the NCT for the Qashqai.

If you’re in the market for a Qashqai, check those lights!

To round up the stats, each of our Top 5 UK Imports are all within the average of 81.8% for a first time pass in their initial NCT. These cars do have a lower pass rate in the NCT, than the equivalent MOT in the UK. This leads us to the question – is the NCT stricter than the MOT?

Results Summary

When we consider the sheer volume of cars tested in the MOT compared to the NCT, it can be assumed that the NCT is stricter, or could it be because the MOT is due on a car’s third anniversary rather than its fourth here in Ireland for the NCT? Cars in Ireland are going an extra year before they are tested.

Should the NCT adopt the same schedule as the MOT to increase road safety by testing cars more often?

The failure rates on unsafe tyres are a very worrying statistic either way – prevalent across the NCT and the MOT, and this is based on just a sample of five models tested in one year. Unsafe tyres that are overlooked by a motorist and instead, inspected and highlighted by an NCT/MOT technician, could possibly highlight a laidback attitude towards tyre safety among motorists, the data alone speaks for itself.

To put this in perspective, in 2017, there were 1,355,000 vehicles tested, and 175,000 failed due to unsafe tyres, just shy of 13%. Just over 1 in 10 cars had unsafe tyres on our roads.